Dec 3rd, 2013 – ASUU Strike 2013 Latest News Update: FUTO Sacked Lecturers, Declares Vacancy
ASUU Strike News Update December 2013: FUTO Sacked Lecturers, Declares Vacancy
Yesterday, ASUU officials vowed to remain focused on their fight to ensure that the Federal Government of Nigeria fulfills all necessary conditions to end the 5-month-old strike.
ASUU President Nasir Isa Fagge in a press briefing in Abuja yesterday said the organization will not succumb to any political blackmail, but continue to represent the interest of Nigerians at all times.
He described the threat by the Supervising Minister of Education, Mr Nyesom Wike, to sack university lecturers as frivolous, saying the victimisation of striking lecturers was against the international law to which Nigeria is a signatory.
He accused the minister of aggravating the crisis by misleading President Goodluck Jonathan and, indeed, Nigerians on the position of the union for the strike to be called off.
He said contrary to Wike’s allegation that ASUU gave fresh demands, the union only replied the Federal Government’s letter, dated November 6, 2013, suggesting that all issues agreed upon during the meeting with President Jonathan be put in a memorandum and signed by both parties before the strike was suspended.
Fagge said in a letter to the president, the ASUU stated clearly that its emergency National Executive Council (NEC) meeting called to consider the views of members on offers by Jonathan could not take definite decision to call of the strike, because of what he described as “certain uncertainties.”
Fagge said the leadership of ASUU, while waiting for the response from President Jonathan, was surprised at “lies and mischief” coming from the minister and agents of government, “all with the intent of misleading the Nigerian public.”
According to Fagge, “since the issuance of the union’s response to the said letter, the salvos that have been coming out, allegedly from the Minister of Education, makes one to wonder whether the person that is charged with the responsibility of superintending over the Nigeria’s education system has the wherewithal to handle a vital national assignment.”
Wike had, last week, issued an ultimatum for the striking university lecturers to resume classes on or before December 4 or be sacked.
But ASUU had insisted that unless the accord struck with President Jonathan was properly documented and the MoU signed by relevant parties, the strike would not be called off.
Fagge said the union had no issue with the directive by the Federal Government that gates of universities be opened to students, but stressed that the lecturers would not be there to teach.
He further stressed that the demand was also in reaction to announcements by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Pius Anyim, that the 2012 MoU, “a document authorised by himself, was not binding on government, since it was signed by a permanent secretary and was, therefore, a mere promise and a non-binding piece of paper.”
In the resolution signed by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Mac John Nwaobiala, on November 6, 2013, it was agreed that N200 billion would be released as 2013 revitalisation fund for public universities, which ASUU wants “deposited with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and disbursed to the benefitting universities within two weeks.”
According to the resolution, a total of N1.3 trillion was to be released between 2013 and 2018, with N200 billion for 2013; N220 billion for 2014; N220 billion for 2015; N220 billion for 2016; N220 billion for 2017 and N220 billion for 2018.
ASUU decried the state of Nigerian universities and the “deliberate lies and misinterpretation” of true state of things by agents of government, adding that the union would not be deterred from fighting for improvement of the conditions of Nigerian universities.
To clear the air on how branches voted on whether to suspend the strike or not, Fagge said “of the 52 branches of ASUU, 48, roughly 92 per cent, advised conditional suspension of the strike, that is suspending the strike only if certain conditions are met, while four advised on suspension of the strike before pursuing the implementation of certain conditions.”
Insisting that the strike must continue if government did not commit to resolutions reached, Fagge said “we want to make it very clear that we shall bow only to what we as academics are convinced will serve the interest of Nigeria and its people, no matter their ethnic, religious or class origins. This is where we stand. We shall not be cowed.”
He also dismissed allegation that the strike was being hijacked by opposition parties to discredit the President Gooluck Jonathan-led administration.
He revealed that Nigeria lose about N60 billion annually to Ghana, due to higher percentage of Nigerian students that flooded the country.
He maintained that the agreement, if implemented by the government, in the next five years, Nigeria would have witnessed unprecedented transformation of its university education and would be competiting favourably with the best universities in the world.
On the threat to sack lecturers, Fagge said what government needed to do was to engage more university teachers, saying there was already acute shortage of teachers in the universities across the country.
He said the government needed to recruitment additional 23,000 lecturers on the basis of 50:50 ratio between the federal and state universities.
Academic activities commence at AAUA, ESUT
Academic activities resumed at the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA), on Monday, as some lecturers of the institution complied with the directive by the management of the school to commence lectures.
Although lectures have not started fully in all the departments, a visit to the school campus showed that lectures had started in some of the departments of the university, with students in classrooms.
It was observed that lectures were on in some of the faculties including Arts and Education.
It was also gathered that timetables for lectures for the second semester of the 2012/2013 academic session had been released by each of the departments, to signal the commencement of academic exercise.
Also meetings of the heads of departments in each of the faculties were held to ensure proper courses allocation among the lecturers.
The vice chancellor of the university, Professor Femi Mimiko and principal officers of the insitution went round the campus to monitor the level of compliance to the directive.
Speaking after the monitoring exercise, Mimiko expressed satisfaction, saying the development showed that about 60 per cent of the academic staff were back on campus.
“I am satisfied with the level of response that we have received so far, viz-a-viz the directive that management gave that lectures should resume today.
“I have personally gone round and I also sent my principal officers to go round the classrooms and it was discovered that quite a number of classes held.
“As we speak, lecturers are in the classrooms teaching, yes the students are just coming back to campus, that is not unexpected, but the good thing there is, more than half of the total number of lecturers have indicated their desire to teach and they are all over the place teaching, I hope and believe that from tomorrow, the situation will improve,” he said.
Mimiko said it was a matter of individual choice if a parent chose to listen to ASUU and keep his child at home, adding that there was little or nothing that could be done to that.
Also, students and lecturers of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), on Monday, returned to school, following a directive by the school authorities.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the authorities had directed them to resume classes on December 2 and commence preparations for the 2012/2013 second semester examination.
NAN correspondent who monitored the situation at the Enugu and Agbani campuses of the university reported that the students were in their various departments exchanging pleasantries and checking the notice boards.
At the faculties of engineering and management sciences in the Enugu campus, students in their numbers were copying the second semester examination timetables pasted on the notice boards.
The lecturers, on the other hand, held a meeting with the governing council of the university at the Agbani campus on the resumption of work.
Addressing the lecturers, chairman of the council, Chief Chilo Offiah, appealed to them to sheathe their sword and return to classes in the interest of the students.
Offiah thanked the lecturers for attending the meeting and assured them that the council would do all it could to ensure the improvement of their welfare.
The executive members of the ESUT branch of the ASUU did not, however, attend the meeting.
Meanwhile, it was a different situation at the Enugu campus of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), as only a few students and lecturers were on campus.
NAN reported that the few lecturers were in their various offices, while the non-academic staff members were busy working.
Some of the lecturers who spoke with NAN on conditions of anonymity said they were waiting for directives from both the school authorities and the ASUU branch.
FUTO Senate sacks teaching staff
For failure to return to classrooms, the Senate of the Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO) has sacked all academic staff on its payroll with immediate effect.
The sack order was made known by the Public Relations Officers (PRO) of the institution, Mr Chike Ezenwa, while speaking with the Nigerian Tribune in Owerri, through telephone.
According to him, the senate of the university had declared all the positions of academic staff in the institution, adding that they would be advertised starting from Monday, December 2.
The senate council, he explained, had already compiled the list of vacant positions in the school, adding that who were willing to resume would be adequately protected.
Meanwhile, the FUTO branch of ASUU has said any attempt to break their ranks would be strongly resisted by their members.
This was contained in a communiqué issued at the end o their meeting held on Monday, and signed by both the chairman and secretary, Dr Ikenna Nwachukwu and Dr F.M. Eke respectively.
The communiqué urged members to ignore the resumption notice by FUTO management, adding that the branch would not engage in any academic activities until the Federal Government commited itself to implementing the ASUU-FGN agreement.
UNILAG lecture rooms remain shut
Lecture rooms at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) remained shut on Monday, despite the expiration of the one-week ultimatum given by some members of the ASUU branch of the institution.
Lecturers at the institution, were, last week Monday, served with an ultimatum to resume work by a faction of the union.
Asked their likely next line of action if the lecturers failed to resume work, Dr Micheal Ogbeide, one of the leaders of the faction, refused to divulge their intention.
However, in a telephone conversation with the Nigerian Tribune, on Monday, Ogbeide said since the Federal Government had made a new decision as to when the striking lecturers were to resume, they had no choice but to await government’s next directive.
“Government owns the school, not us, so we have to work with the decision of government.
“The decision of the owner (Federal Government) supersedes that of any pressure groups in the school. By now, schools are working their calendars and adjusting them in preparation for resumption, so one cannot just jump into the class and begin to teach,” he said.
UNIJOS mgt, ASUU set for showdown
Authorities of the University of Jos (UNIJOS) have directed all academic staff of the university to commence work with immediate effect, while the branch chairman of ASUU said the union will not succumb to threat and intimidation.
The authorities of the university, in a circular signed by the registrar/secretary to the council, Mr Jilli Dandam, made available to Nigerian Tribune in Jos, Plateau State, pointed out that all academic staff of the university shall return to their various departments, units and directorates and commence work immediately.
It added that daily compliance register would be kept by all heads of department for all academic staff, while it further directed every head of department to publish lecture time-table for all academic programmes by today.
However, branch chairman of ASUU, Dr Jangkam Wannang, said the union would not succumb to threat to call off its strike, adding that conditions to call off the strike were well spell out.
He said intimidation and harassment of any form would not force the union to call off the strike.
“We will not succumb to threat, the strike is for the improvement of the system. The threat and intimidation by both the government and governing council of a universities will rather complicate the problem rather than addressing it,” he said.
OAU students desert campus
Students of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, on Monday, failed to resume for academic activities, despite the directive of the government.
A correspondent of NAN, who visited the institution, reported that none of the students were seen on campus for possible commencement of academic activities as directed by the government.
Mr Abiodun Olarenwaju, the Public Relations Officer of the institution, confirmed to NAN that not a single student was on campus “for any reason whatsoever.”
He said the few lecturers on campus were around “for reasons other than academic,” adding that “you know our lecturers have not totally deserted the campus like that, many of them still come around to do one or two things in their offices, but no teaching and learning activities.”
Gombe varsity lecturers fail to resume
Lecturers at the Gombe State University are yet to resume classes, despite the directive to do so by the government.
A NAN correspondent who visited the university campus on Monday reported that while the non-academic staff reported for work, offices of the lecturers were still closed.
NAN observed that the students also did not turn up for lectures as of the time of the visit.
When contacted on telephone, branch chairman of ASUU, Mallam Umar Adamu, confirmed that none of the lecturers of the university had resumed work.
Adamu said the union would meet tomorrow, to decide on what to do.
The premises of the university was, however, calm as security operatives were seen keeping vigilance at the main gate.
The academic staff of Federal University in Kashere, also in Gombe State, did not, however, join the strike.
UI students stay off campus
Students of University of Ibadan (UI), on Monday, obeyed the directive of ASUU and stayed off campus, against the order of the Federal Government.
The UI branch of ASUU also lashed out at the Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr Doyin Okupe, for calling the union “enemy of the state.”
Members of the union at the institution, at a congress, resolved not to sign any register and were united in rejecting the directive of the government.
In an interview, the branch chairman, Dr Olusegun Ajiboye, said the union remained on course at ensuring that government made funds available to public universities.
Ajiboye said the union respected the office of the president, but carpeted Dr Okupe and other advisers werefor their attempts to ridicule the office of the president through their unguarded utterances.
Ajiboye, who lashed out at Okupe for describing ASUU as enemy of state, asked him to separate the roles of corrupt government officials, oil thieves, vandals and cabals in government from the patriotic struggle of ASUU.
“Historically, leaders have failed because of the bad counsel of their advisers. Mr President needs to be careful not to be derailed by people like Okupe, who do not see corrupt politicians and cabals as well as looters as enemies of state.
“Okupe does not see anything wrong in bad roads, comatose health sector, pension fraud, subsidy saga, aviation fraud, oil theft, as well as enough problems for the masses by the leadership,” he said.
The union appealed to the president to read the letter sent to him in order to know that the union was not out to disrespect him, but to give him more credibility.
[Sources: NAN, Nigerian Tribune]